Foreign Affairs

Foreign and security policy affairs concerning Greenland are managed by the Department of Foreign Affairs in close co-operation with the Danish ministry of foreign affairs.


Since 2003, Naalakkersuisut has been entitled to conclude international agreements on areas of administration now transferred from Denmark to Greenland.


The Department of Foreign Affairs coordinates the management of international relations for Greenland.


Consulates and Representations

The following countries have honorary general consulates in Greenland: Norway, Iceland, Sweden, Finland, Canada, France, Belgium, and Holland, all eight in Nuuk. Further, Iceland has an honorary consulate in Tasiilaq, and Germany and Italy have consulates in Ilulissat.


According to the bill on Greenlandic self-government, Greenland can deploy representatives at Danish embassies abroad. The government has used this opportunity in Brussels and, from 1998 to 2002, in Canada.


Territory and Sea Law

Greenland has a fishing limit of 200 nautical miles, an economic zone granting exclusive right to fishing and raw materials. Where this zone overlaps with corresponding zones of other countries, delimitation agreements have been concluded on the basis of the mid-line principle. This is in effect in relation to Norway at Jan Mayen and Svalbard and in relation to Iceland and Canada. As concerns Canada, however, an agreement has yet to be concluded in relation to Tartupaluk/Hans Ø to which Canada as well as the Danish Commonwealth lay claim.


Denmark/Greenland has ratified the sea law commission of the UN (UNCLOS). The Greenlandic government participates in a co-operation with the commonwealth authorities and the authorities on the Faroe Islands to document the claims to the continental shelf beyond the 200 nautical mile limit in accordance with article 76 of the sea law commission. Such cliams must be documented no later than ten years after ratification, the deadline for Greenland thus being 2014. This can affect the rights of Greenland to eventual findings of oil and minerals.


Arctic Co-operation

The Arctic Council has the following members: USA, Canada, Russia, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Iceland and Denmark / Greenland / The Faroe Islands. Six arctic indigenous peoples' organizations participate in the work of the council: Aleut International Association (AIA), Arctic Athabaskan Council, Gwich'in Council International, Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC), Raipon, and the Saami Council.


The scientific work of the council is organized into six working groups; Greenland actively participates in and contributes to the majority of these groups.


Denmark / Greenland / The Faroe Islands assumed the presidency of the Arctic Council in the spring of 2009, a presidency which will last until 2011. Greenland holds the presidency of the Working Group on Sustainable Development (SDWG - Sustainable Development Working Group) from 2009 to 2011.


Nordic Co-Operation

Nordic co-operation was originally a co-operation agreement between Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Finland. The self-governing territories of the Faroe Islands, Åland Islands, and Greenland have joined the co-operation after its inception.


The Nordic Council

Greenland has two members of the Nordic Council which is the parliamentary body for Nordic co-operation. The council sends its recommendations to the Nordic Council of Ministers or directly to the five Nordic countries or the three self-governing regions.

The Nordic Council of Ministers

The Nordic Council of Ministers is the official co-operative organisation. The Council of Ministers is not a supranational body and bases its work on the principle of consensus (agreement). Greenland has as a self-governing territory the right to make proposals and to make its stance known, but not to vote.


The composition of the council depends on the question to be discussed. There are ten specialized councils and a general Council of Ministers, consisting of the ministers responsible for Nordic co-operation in each Nordic country.


The prime ministers have the overall responsibility for Nordic co-operation while the coordination of the co-operation in the Nordic Council of Ministers is managed by the ministers responsible for Nordic co-operation.


Each country or self-governing territory appoints a minister responsible for co-operation. The minister for finances represents Greenland.


Nordic Institute in Greenland (NAPA)

NAPA is an institution under the Nordic Council of Ministers which has three main tasks; to develop cultural contacts with the other Nordic countries, to provide information on Greenland in Scandinavia and vice versa, and to support and stimulate the cultural life of Greenland with particular emphasis on children and young people.


West Nordic Council

The West Nordic parliamentary co-operation takes place in the context of the West Nordic Council. The council has its own secretariat, which is affiliated with the Alting of Iceland. The Greenlandic co-operation is organised by the secretariat of Inatsisartut.


NORA - Nordic Atlantic Co-operation

NORA is a cross-regional co-operation between Greenland, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, and western Norway. NORA is financed by contributions from the regional fund under the Nordic Council of Ministers and by national contributions from the participating countries and self-governing territories.


Social Services

Greenland has joined the Nordic Convention on Social Security which ensures that Nordic citizens have equal rights in the Nordic countries with regard to social benefits in case of illness, birth, adoption, disability, old age, death, injuries, unemployment, and insurance benefits for children.


European Co-Operation

The relationship of Greenland with the EU is based on the following agreements:


•                A protocol to the Treaty on the Withdrawal of Greenland from the EU ("The Greenland Agreement")

•                A fishing agreement between Greenland and the EU

•                A partnership between Greenland and Europe (with focus on education from 2007 to 2013)

•                An association with the Overseas Countries and Territories (the OCT Agreement)


Fisheries Agreement

The Fisheries Agreement between Greenland and the EU consists of a commercially-based fishing agreement and a "partnership agreement". The commercial part is based on EU fishing quotas in Greenlandic waters, whereas the "partnership agreement" is meant to help Greenlandic fishing industries develop.


Partnership Scheme

The Partnership Scheme is a political agreement between Greenland and Denmark on the one hand and the EU on the other hand. Naalakkersuisut has prioritized education for the 2007-2013 period but it is within the spirit of the agreement that other areas, e.g. raw materials, environment, and fishing, can obtain support, provided there exists a strategy for that particular area.


OCT Association

The OCT Agreement is an agreement between the EU and island communities with constitutional ties to EU member states (usually former colonies). The OCT Agreement provides for assistance from the European Development Fund (EDF), administered by the Directorate General for development of the European Commission. There is therefore a close co-operation between the Commission and the OCTs.


Greenland does not receive development aid from the EDF but the OCT Agreement contains a number of concrete benefits to Greenland such as duty-free access to the EU market for fish produce, the possibility of re-exports of shrimp and halibut from third countries, possibilities for networking in the form of seminars, workshops and conferences, access to help in cases of natural disasters, and access to a number of EU programmes. Furthermore, Greenland is part of the OCTA board which is the board for the organization of the OCT's.


Northern Periphery Programme

Naalakkersuisut also participates in the development of the Northern Dimension of the EU within the Arctic Window, including participation in the Northern Periphery Programme of the EU.


Global Co-Operation: UN

Greenland participates in the work of a number of UN bodies including the UN General Assembly.


Moreover, Greenland participates in the work of the Human Rights Council and the Expert Group on Indigenous Peoples' Rights.


Finally Greenland participates in the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples Issues which Greenland and Denmark helped found in 2002 as a consultative organ of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).


Global Co-operation: WTO

The overall objective for the participation in the World Trade Organization (WTO) is to create the best environment for the exports of Greenland. WTO with its 153 members is the most important multilateral organization in the area of international trade. The participation of Greenland in the work of WTO takes place in the context of the Danish commonwealth. The overall objective of the WTO is to eliminate all discrimination between foreign and domestic products in international trade.


Co-operation with Canada

The co-operation of Greenland with Canada has in recent years primarily taken place through co-operation to promote a sustainable development in the Arctic.


The co-operation is regulated by a series of bilateral agreements and regional agreements with the Northwest Territories and Quebec and most recently with Nunavut.


Defence and Security

The agreed context for US military presence in Greenland is the Defence Agreement of 27 April 1951 which gave the US the right to establish base areas in the country.


The recent update of the defence agreement took place at Igaliku in 2004; these accords also include a technical-economic co-operation and an environmental agreement.


International Promotion and Branding

The Department of Foreign Affairs leads a public-private effort to promote and brand Greenland abroad through Branding Greenland in which the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources, Tusagassiivik, Royal Greenland, Air Greenland, and Greenland Tourism and Business participate.


Branding Greenland works for a long-term promotion of Greenland through public-private co-operation and co-financing to create and maintain a nuanced and increased knowledge of Greenland abroad for the benefit of export, tourism, investment, events, culture, and international policy efforts of Greenland.


Fishing and Hunting


International Agreements

Besides the agreement with the EU (see above), Greenland has bilateral agreements on fishing with Norway, Russia, the Faroe Islands, and Iceland.


International Relations

Greenland participates in the following international organizations on fishing and hunting:



Read more about these organizations at



Read more about the Premier's Office, the Foreign Policy Survey, representations abroad, the Fisheries Agreement, the Partnership Agreement, the OCT Association, the co-operation with Canada, and Defence and Security at


Read more about the UN Sea Law Covention and the continental shelf commission at


Read more about the Arctic Council at


Read more about Nordic co-operation at


Read more about NAPA at


Read more about the West Nordic Council at


Read more about NORA at


Read more about the Nordic Convention on Social Security at


Read more about the Northern Periphery Programme at


Read more about global co-operation, the UN and the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues at


Read more about the Human Rights Council and the Group of Experts on Indigenous Peoples' Rights at


Read more about the WTO at


Read more about international promotion and branding efforts at